Home renovation

7 Terrifying Things That Can Happen During a Home Renovation

A home renovation is not for the faint of heart. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good contractor who can handle the heavy lifting. But even that doesn’t mean you won’t be exposed to your fair share of disasters, including some that can be scary, some that can be traumatic, and some that can even be harmful to your health.

You can’t avoid all terrifying possibilities, but you can do your best to minimize the risks. And it starts with knowing what terrors might lurk behind that ordinary-looking brick wall or that innocuous, albeit hideous, popcorn ceiling. We are here for you, friends!

Here are seven scary and dangerous things to watch out for when renovating or remodeling.

1. Floods and electrical problems

Smart do-it-yourselfers call 811, the service line that notifies you of the location of underground power lines, days before you dig. The helpful operator on the other end of the line will notify utility companies to send you directions to water, gas or electric lines.

But maybe you forgot. Or maybe you hit a smaller water pipe in your wall, which the water company won’t know about.

“Mistakenly hitting a water pipe can have far more serious consequences than just getting your shirt wet,” says Dan Barra property restoration expert with 1-800 Water Damage.

Suppose you go out for a bite to eat after drilling a hole in the wall between your laundry room and your living room, not realizing that you have just drilled a pipe. When you return, everything is flooded. Including a puddle around your drill, which is still plugged in. Ouch!

If you touch a line and find submerged electrical tools or appliances, Barr recommends locating your home’s main electrical panel and shutting off the power before you begin wading through the water.

“It could be loaded and extremely dangerous,” he says.

2. Creepy Creatures

True story: My fiancé was unscrewing a can lamp in the living room of our brand new house, and a handful of wasps hit him in the face. Fortunately, they were dead.

What if they weren’t?

“You can drop or crawl really dangerous creatures on you,” says designer from Texas Pablo Solomon. Dead wasps are just the start. Depending on where you live, hanging around your attic or browsing your crawl space can bring you into contact with brown recluse or black widow spiders, scorpions, centipedes, or snakes.

While there’s no surefire way to avoid scary critters, covering clothing will protect your skin from bites. As for the years of nightmares, you are alone.

3. Mold invasion

Skipping steps during a renovation will definitely cause you major problems down the line. And one of the most often overlooked aspects of a home renovation is proper ventilation.

“Most bathrooms have so little ventilation that they unwittingly become laboratories to grow mold and mildew,” says David Schneideran interior designer in Chesterfield, MO who focuses on sustainable and eco-friendly remodeling.

So whenever you remodel a kitchen or bathroom, be sure to install enough fans—strong those-to suck out all the moisture-laden air. Most experts recommend a 100 cfm (cubic feet per minute) fan per unit.

In addition, a whirring fan can drown out all unpleasant sounds. This is called “added value”!

4. Release of asbestos and lead

You are probably already aware of the risk of lead or asbestos in your home. Unless you had a particularly unscrupulous seller, you should have signed a lead paint declaration when buying a home built before 1978. And the second you typed “popcorn ceiling” on Google , you have probably spotted the word “asbestos”.

But still, maybe that’s not a priority when you’re in a rush to pull out your ugly old cabinets or tear up that gaudy old tile to start from scratch – and you end up releasing unknown amounts of these toxic materials.

“Inhaling or swallowing even small amounts of lead or asbestos is extremely dangerous,” Barr says. “Whenever you’re removing walls or ceilings or doing major work on floors, you run the risk of encountering both.”

Wear a mask during small renovation projects to protect yourself. For larger jobs, like knocking down a wall, contact an indoor environment expert who can take samples. If asbestos or lead are present, plan to call in a professional for the demolition.

5. Foundation damage

Have you ever used a drill to mount a pot rack or flat screen TV and found that your hands are a bit…wobbly afterwards? Your walls feel the same and the shaking can cause major problems.

The constant jarring and hammering from power tools can create new cracks and other problems inside your walls. You might spot water leaks or even cracked Sheetrock, Solomon says. If possible, look inside your walls after drilling for any new problems and repair them immediately.

6. Damage to your hearing

The construction is noisy. You might think it’s tolerable, since it’s temporary. But if you’re, say, remodeling an entire kitchen, your ears will be beleaguered day in and day out for what could be an extended period of time, and that could lead to long-term damage.

“The sound of saws, hammers, power tools and other construction machinery can hurt your ears,” says Bryan Pollard, President of Hearing Health Partner Hyperacousis Research. “Noise damage is cumulative and exhibits a delayed response. And the longer a person is exposed, the higher the risk.

So maybe your ears will feel great the next day. But will they be okay a week later? One year later ? Or ten years later? Pollard warns of tinnitus — that annoying ringing in your ears — or hyperacusis, sensitivity to sound, and noise-induced pain. Maybe those bulky hard hats don’t look so dumb after all.

7. Exposure to materials with high VOC content

Wearing a face mask can prevent you from inhaling the fumes while painting, but their damage lasts long after the color has been applied. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gas-emitting chemicals found in a number of home improvement materials, including many paints, carpets, or upholstery. You know that funny smell your carpet gave off for a few weeks after installation? It’s probably VOCs.

Many VOCs are known carcinogens and can cause headaches, allergic reactions or asthma.

You can purchase low-VOC paint and carpeting to reduce your risk. Keep windows and doors open to ventilate your home and reduce the danger of VOCs.